Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The curse of the squeezebox.

This is Shirley using the web cam on my Asus mini netbook earlier this week. I think she quite likes it. At present I have just managed to break the Ubuntu Linux installation. More jiggery pokery needed from me, I feel. Whatever personal laptop I have is always being fiddled with - my old Dell had around a dozen different operating systems on it during its' four year life. It is a bit like the biker whose kitchen sink is constantly occupied by bits of engine or gearbox. I do like to tinker - it is the best way to learn.

Well, let me cut to the chase; it is a while since I have had a whinge, and I have felt one coming on all week. On Wednesday I was carrying out my regular journey to my company's offices in Watford; I get the overland train from Erith to London Bridge, then get the Northern Line tube from London Bridge to Euston, then another overland train from Euston to Watford Junction. This takes around two and a half hours each way on a good day. I was coming up the escalator at Euston tube station, and I could hear the sound of a busker playing. London quite sensibly has legalised and licenced buskers - hopefuls have to pass an audition as part of the licence application process, which does tend to weed out the dross. This particular individual was wrestling with that red headed stepchild of an upright piano and a diseased vacuum cleaner - an accordion. Whoever invented such a monstrosity must have been eating some rather strange mushrooms. The accordion sounds like a dying donkey fighting a set of bagpipes played through an overloaded Marshall Stack. Horrid and totally unsuited to London, or pretty much anywhere in my opinon. On the streets of Paris one could at least cross the road and avoid the performer. No such luck in a crowded underground tunnel. I truly hope never to encounter this again.

I have always been of the opinion that the whole point with technology was to advance and make life better and easier for one and all. My view was first challenged when Concorde was grounded to be replaced with slower, more boring aeroplanes. It has again been hit from a far more domestic aspect; I hope that there is a special circle of hell for whoever invented the energy saving light bulb. The reason they save energy is that they put out bugger all light! I have three such bulbs in my house, and I am looking to replace them as soon as possible with old fashioned "full fat" incandescent bulbs. My kitchen appears to be a sepia print, the lighting levels are so low. I would rather spend a couple more quid a year and actually be able to see what I am doing.

I have always been a Progressive Rock fan; the most unfashionable form of modern music to most people. Prog is getting a bit of a makeover; Genesis are about to re - release six of their early albums, and The Sunday Times published an article about the band today. Perhaps they are so unhip, they will become hip. Who knows?

There are a group of kids in Erith who practice the French art of Parkour (running and jumping over fixed objects, like walls and street furniture). They don't graffiti or terrorise the locals, and I have seen them practicing on several occasions - goodness knows how they manage not to break anything - including themselves. A clip of them in action is below. Not my kind of thing, but live and let live.


  1. Hugh, your blog is, truly, one of the better ones. You write with humour and ,I dare say, sensitivity.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Nice to see someone else has Commented!
    I get lonely...

    My Dad's learning the accordion...
    Is it to late be adopted?

    Personally I don't mind Energy Saving Light bulbs and out of the...#thinks#....15 places where I could have a choice in what bulb I use I already use 7 BUT they ARE completely bloody useless in certain places as in, let me think, Ooooooh using them as a main source of imumination or anything involving a dimmer switch etc!
    I use mine in places where the lights are left on for long periods but you might not spend long periods (hall, landing, bedside lights etc) and their fine.
    Do you know 150W bulbs have already been pulled from most places shelves? Morrisons are stopping 100W as of January.
    Now THAT'S mad!
    They do look better now instead of the spaghetti mess but the ones that are made to look like normal light bulbs are covered in a film of a sort of "grippy" plastic and dunno if it's just me/my house/whatever but they attract dust like new shoes attract dog s#it. And your right the bulbs do give a yellowish light, reminds me of "Threads" for some reason…grim, sickly and Northern but then I tend to have the lights low most of the time anyhow as I have a problem with bright lights anyway so it's not that noticeable….

    A fellow Prog Rocker!
    To quote Zaphod Beadlebrox from The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy "…so unhip it’s a surprise their legs don't fall off…"
    I'm choosy what I listen to but anything that involves bass pedals, keyboards and a not clocking in under 8 min's is my music of choice!
    GREAT article too.
    Genesis are my favourite (but only up to when Phil Collins shaved his beard off! LOL!) just because there's so much variation but it's always consistently good. Got to admit Blood On The Rooftops is an amazing track, I love the recording, the "story", the twelve string Steve Hackett plays…#sigh…#.
    Mind you also love All In A Mouse's Night too…draw the line at Wot Gorilla though that is probably the worst track they ever recorded #Cough-album-filler-cough!#.
    Favourite Genesis album is too hard to choose but probably overall…um…And Then There Were Three?
    Nursery Cryme!!

    Hat's off to the local Parkour Crew, I'm very jealous. Would love to be able to do that BUT am probably too old and unfit now! Got to say the video has some TERRIBLE bloody edits but gets the idea across!